Friday, February 3, 2012

How to define and design large spaces

English: A recreation room in the lower level ...Image via Wikipedia

As hard as it is to decorate and create space in a small area, it is equally difficult to take a large space and make it feel cozy. Add to that, the frustration of how to best utilize and define a large space and suddenly you see the challenge. Many people become overwhelmed with large spaces and after trying to paint and find ways to fill it give up. The key in pulling a large space together is to give the room a true identity or two. Yes, or two. Sometimes the best way to deal with large spaces it to make them multi-functional. The real problem emerges when you have a room serving so many functions how to pull it together in a cohesive way so that it looks less like a catch all room and more like a well planned and comfortable space to share.

Assessing your needs
In assessing what your needs are, take into consideration what the space already offers. Is there adequate number of electrical outlets? Phone jacks? Cable line? Is there a bathroom in this space, or existing plumbing for a bath room? Is there any natural light? Are the windows large enough to crawl out of in a fire situation? Many people looking to convert an unused space like an attic or basement into a room need to understand that certain rooms like adding an additional bedroom have certain criteria that must be met. For example in some states, a basement bedroom must have a large enough window to allow a person to crawl through it, as well as the bedroom can only be sold to a buyer if it has a closet. Knowing this in advance helps you plan especially if you are looking to increase the value of your home or wanting to sell it later on. If you are unsure about plumbing or electrical issues, it might be well worth consulting with a contractor, plumber or electrician before you begin.

Potential problems
Almost every home renovation or remodel runs into unforeseen problems. If you are working on a tight budget, allow extra for the unforeseen and keep things simple. Elaborate design ideas done on the cheap are almost impossible and if you aren't careful could cost twice as much through error. Instead keep your design ideas simple, practical and realistic. Rooms like basements can have issues with moisture, mildew, flooding etc. and these problems have to be fixed even if it means postponing your renovation to a later date. Attic space could have circulation problems, need additional insulation, electrical etc. Be sure to consult with experts before jumping into a project.

Possibilities and ideas
Once you have addressed any potential problems and have assessed what your family's needs are, it is time to start planning. Large spaces offer the potential to be many things. Taking a look at the rest of your home will provide some clues as to how to best utilize and allocate space in this large space.
If your home has cramped storage, having a partition built may be a clever way to create storage. In most cases, it would involve installing a wall framed in 2 X 4's spaced every 16 inches from the stud's center point to the center point of the next stud, a few pieces of sheet rock, molding, and joint compound. Creating a hidden area or large walk in closet in a large space is a great way to add storage that may be lacking in other areas of your home.
Word to the wise: Every state is different and if you plan on making major structural changes to your home you may need a building permit. If that sounds a little too complicated, you may if budget allows, get a contractor in to do the small job.
Home office/study area
If you lack a home office, this large space may be just the place to create a home office, study area for the kids, or even a small library to read in. If you need a little privacy, consider using a room divider. This works great for many spaces.

Media room/ game room
Many homes being built today are incorporating into their design media rooms and home owners are also requesting game room/play room space. Why? Well it may be due to the fact more Americans are feeling the pinch economically and spend more recreational time at home.

Getting started
A clean slate is best. It may be best to clear out the room if it isn't already done. Take note of things like wall outlets, cable and phone lines etc. These all will play a key part in space assignment and definition. Once the room is clear you will notice the large expanses of individual surfaces like the ceiling, floor, and walls. These large surfaces have to tie in together to create a unified design. When choosing paints, or flooring, window treatments etc. remember that they will be the background for the room entirely. Creating too many colors, and varying window treatments or flooring will make the room feel disjointed. There are far better ways to create definition for a large space.

Define and unify
Once you have chosen the right details for the large surfaces of your multi-purpose room, it is time to designate space allocation. Work on the room as a whole so that you don't end up with a disjointed space. Example: If you are adding a home office, you may want to take care to make sure that the finishes you use in choice of materials is one that can be carried out into the rest of the space. Cherry cabinetry in your home office area needs to be repeated elsewhere in the space to create a cohesive feel. The same applies to fabrics. Whether it is window treatments, throw pillows, furniture coverings, they need to have one common among them all. This should be in color, texture, pattern. Try to keep it simple by choosing three main colors to work off of. Similar textures, shapes and patterns with like colors will give your space a unified feel without compromising each rooms defined purpose.

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